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Irish stars to the fore in Bournemouth-Swansea thriller as Fulham miss title chance

Cyrus Christie was on target for the Swans, with Michael Obafemi providing two assists – but Bournemouth came back from three goals down.

Cyrus Christie was on target for Swansea City.
Cyrus Christie was on target for Swansea City.
Image: PA

THERE WAS NO shortage of Irish involvement as Bournemouth staged an incredible late comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Swansea in their quest for automatic promotion from the Sky Bet Championship.

Cyrus Christie and Michael Obafemi were both involved in Swansea’s goals — Christie was on target, while Obafemi provided two assists — while Ryan Manning also featured, with Mark Travers and Robbie Brady on the Bournemouth side.

Kieffer Moore’s brace – his first Bournemouth goals – and Dominic Solanke’s penalty all came in the final 18 minutes of a pulsating contest after the Swans had looked on course for three points.

Joel Piroe’s double inside the opening 12 minutes had set Swansea on their way, and Christie added a third by finishing a superb length-of-the-field team move.

Nottingham Forest’s victory at Fulham saw them cut the gap to the Cherries to three points with three games remaining, with Bournemouth welcoming Forest to the south coast in the penultimate fixture for both clubs next Tuesday.

Former Swansea players Ethan Laird and Jamal Lowe were included in the Cherries’ starting line-up.

Laird spent the first half of the season on loan at Swansea from Manchester United and his early touches were jeered by some home supporters.

Swansea took an early grip on proceedings, with Piroe exhibiting his scoring touch.

Obafemi set up Christie after six minutes and Cherries goalkeeper Travers could only palm his shot into the path of Piroe, who lashed home a fine volley.

It got worse for Bournemouth six minutes later as Obafemi fed Piroe and the Dutchman, with minimum back-lift, found the bottom corner of Travers’ net.

With Forest leading at Fulham, Bournemouth required an urgent response and Swansea goalkeeper Andy Fisher was brought into action by Lewis Cook and Solanke.

Lowe was booked for scything down Ben Cabango, who was making his 100th Swansea appearance, before almost halving the deficit.

A stunning Cherries counter-attack ended with some wonderful Lowe footwork and a shot which Fisher pushed around the post.

Jefferson Lerma met the resulting corner from six yards but his header landed inches wide of the far upright.

Philip Billing was sent on at half-time and, with Cabango forced off by injury shortly afterwards, the Cherries had an aerial advantage that Moore would later exploit.

Fisher denied the unmarked Jaidon Anthony from close range, and Swansea extended their lead after 58 minutes with the goalkeeper’s precise pass starting a flowing move.

Hannes Wolf and Piroe combined to find Obafemi and his pass was lashed into the roof of the net by Christie, who had arrived into the area at breakneck speed.

Moore, back from a 10-week lay-off after breaking his foot, gave Bournemouth hope by heading home Anthony’s corner.

Nine minutes later, Ryan Manning was punished for handball and Solanke swept home his 29th goal of the season from the spot.

The game had ticked into its final minute when Fisher kept out Solanke’s header, but he was unable to stop Moore sliding in at the far post to equalise and Bournemouth had secured what could be a precious point.

Elsewhere, Philip Zinckernagel’s solitary strike prevented Fulham from clinching the title as well as boosting Nottingham Forest’s chances of going up automatically with them.

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Marco Silva’s side, who clinched promotion on 19 April, had to better the result of second-placed Bournemouth to make sure of finishing top.

Instead it was Forest who ended up celebrating a victory that moved them up to third and within three points of the Cherries, who host them on Tuesday, 3 May.

Fulham bossed possession and fired off 20 shots but were left to rue failing to find the net in an end-to-end encounter.

And Relegated Barnsley started life after boss Poya Asbaghi with a 2-0 defeat at home to Blackpool.

Asbaghi left Oakwell on Sunday following the Tykes’ demotion and the Reds slipped to a fifth defeat in seven games after goals from Owen Dale and Oliver Casey.

Blackpool, who were looking to make it three unbeaten, had their opener six minutes before the break through Dale and their second came midway through the second half when Casey smashed in at the back post.

William Hondermarck and CJ Hamilton were both introduced as second-half subs for Barnsley and Blackpool respectively.

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